Ayoba, an instant messaging platform created by MTN Group, is reported to now have 1 million active users by the pan-African telecommunications company. The app is only available for people with Android devices and it is localised for Africa and the Middle East with some unique features for MTN customers.

Another interesting differentiator of the app from other social media and instant messaging apps is that it supports many African languages spoken in some of the different countries MTN operates in including isiZulu, isiXhosa, Pidgin, Yoruba, Swahili, and Hausa.

“We believe that our customers in Africa and the Middle East deserve a communication platform that expresses our unique voice, honours our rich identity through local languages, and addresses our customers’ specific needs and challenges by offering a data-included offering for MTN users, Mobile Money transfers (coming soon) and locally relevant content via channels," said Rob Shuter, President and CEO of MTN Group.

Response to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.

It's no secret that telecommunications companies across Africa have regularly complained about OTT (Over The Top) platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Skype, and others that allow their customers to make voice calls and send text messages by only using a mobile Internet connection. They complained mainly because these OTT apps were now eating into their voice and SMS (text) revenues that they, the mobile service providers, were built on.

However, it looks like this criticism is changing as indicated by MTN introducing its own instant messaging app to the African and Middle East markets. Although it is important to note that the Ayoba platform doesn't offer voice messaging yet.

"MTN, together with its partners, is driven to improve access to affordable communications to ensure that people in its markets can reap the social, economic and developmental dividends of being online. Ayoba underscores this goal to bring more people into the digital world by providing them with affordable and simplified digital communication services."

Made for Africa and the Middle East

Ayoba, which was launched earlier 2019, is now operational in 8 MTN markets, namely: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Afghanistan and South Africa.

However, others who are not in these countries can also use it as it is also available across multiple markets on the Google Play Store and via the Ayoba website www.ayoba.me as an OTT offering.

“Ayoba is also working on building an open digital platform that will enable third party innovation. This will ensure that we offer a rich diversified experience on the platform, enabling us to deliver more value to our users, empower local developers and create local experiences that are optimised for local communities,” said David Gilarranz, CEO MTN Digital.

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